Marisa McClellan Loves Putting Food in Jars

August 13, 2013

We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.

Today, we jam with Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars. And good news for you: we're selling signed copies of her book in Provisions!

Marisa McLellan on Food52 Food in Jars on Provisions by Food52 

Shop the Story

Summer isn't over yet -- we're still clinging onto our corn and our tomatoes and our stone fruit as tightly as we can without bruising or bursting them. But it's time for us to start thinking about preserving what we have in anticipation of darker, colder times. Luckily for us, Marisa McClellan is here to help.

On her blog, Food in Jars, Marisa shares her "general obsession with canning jars of all shapes and sizes". She has recently penned a cookbook of the same name, sharing recipes for pickles and jams and syrups that will help convince our wintry selves that fresh tomatoes and juicy plums aren't just a figment of our imagination. Since we're selling signed copies in Provisions (grab one here!), we chatted with Marisa about her favorite things to put up, and why you should be canning, too.

When did you first become interested in preserving?
I grew up helping my mom make blueberry and blackberry jam, so it was always something I knew how to do. The first time I did it myself was in my mid-twenties: I'd gone blueberry picking with a friend and came home with 13 pounds. My first instinct was to make jam like my mom always did, so I gave it a try and loved every aspect of it. I haven't stopped since. 

What late summer produce is still on your list of things to "put up" before it's gone? 
I can't live without an array of peach preserves. I like to wait until the end of the season, when you're certain to get the freestone varieties. Then, I go a little crazy with peach halves, peach butter, and peach chutney. 

More: Get Marisa's recipe (and step-by-step photos!) for White Peach Jam.

What are your favorite ways of using preserved fruits and vegetables during the colder months?
I eat a lot of my pickles alongside bowls of soup or plates of roasted root vegetables. I stir jam into bowls of yogurt and put preserved fruit segments into baked goods and desserts. 

What's your go-to edible gift?
I like to give people a jar of jam along with a little package of homemade bread, scones, or crackers. 

What's your advice to people who are nervous about canning?
Most people are wary about canning because they're afraid that they're going to kill someone. However, botulism can't grow in high acid environments, which includes nearly every variety of jam, jelly, and pickle, so there's absolutely no risk in making and giving one these products. 

Ready to get canning? Pick up a copy of Marisa's book -- and get thee to a farmers market.

Photo of Marisa via Mrs. Wages; book photo by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Emma Wartzman
    Emma Wartzman
  • Blissful Baker
    Blissful Baker
  • Hilarybee
  • LLStone
  • Marisa McClellan
    Marisa McClellan
Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



Emma W. August 14, 2013
Just ordered this from Provisions and am so excited about it.
Blissful B. August 14, 2013
A few years ago, I bought many bushels of peaches to freeze for smoothies, not knowing there was a difference between cling and freestone peaches. Lesson learned!
Hilarybee August 14, 2013
I've also been enjoying the book over the last season. I especially love the blueberry butter, lime curd, and the cranberry ketchup. I think I've made nearly everything except for a few of the jellies and marmalades. I toyed around with the cantaloupe vanilla bean jam a bit. I've made it four times, and I've started adding orange juice and zest, too. Musk melons are abundant where I live and people go crazy for it. Great on buttermilk biscuits and waffles.
LLStone August 13, 2013
I have this book and think it's fantastic.
Marisa M. August 14, 2013
Thank you!